A 34 year old African American woman was shot and killed today on Capitol Hill after first trying to pass the gates at the White House. This appears to be an isolated incident and doesn’t appear to be any kind of terrorism. The woman’s identity is not yet known. It also has not been confirmed if the woman had a gun or not, the only reports state it was only Police Officers who were shooting. Also there was a toddler in the car.
Questions are already being asked about why this woman had to be shot, especially if she wasn’t armed. Also it is being asked why, after this woman talked to Secret Service agents at the White House, did she manage to drive away?
Answering the second question first, it is unknown what the woman was like when she spoke to the agents. It would be normal for the agents not to be suspicious of a woman with a toddler in the car is she had no outward appearances of being a threat. What happened at the White House gates will come out during the investigation.
Based on the information we have it appears that deadly force was authorized in this case. Deadly force is defined as the force a person knows or should know would cause another death or considerable home. Law Enforcement Officers are authorized to use deadly force when they believe a person or persons are believed to be an immediate danger around them. This was decided by the Supreme Court in 1985 in the case “Tennessee v. Garner”. Each law enforcement agency has their own protocols which they follow in such cases.
Here is an excerpt from the “Office of Legislative Research” in Connecticut:
“The law authorizes law enforcement officers to use deadly physical force only when they reasonably believe it is necessary to:
1. defend themselves or a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force or
2. make an arrest or prevent the escape from custody of a person whom they reasonably believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury and, where feasible, they have given warning of their intent to use deadly physical force (CGS § 53a-22 (c)).
The law defines “deadly physical force” as physical force that can be reasonably expected to cause death or serious physical injury (CGS § 53a-3(5)). It defines “seriousphysical injury” as physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ (CGS § 53a-3(4)).” – CGA
A vehicle has also been defined as a deadly weapon and can use deadly force against it. This was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007 in the case of “Scott v. Harris.” Although this case concerned a law suit by a victim against a police officer, it also covered the fact a vehicle was a deadly weapon.
From what is known about this shooting, it appears that all the conditions were met for the use of deadly force.
Written by: Paul Roy